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Fuller’s in the 1970s: funky but chic

We’ve been fascinated by Fuller’s branding in the 1970s for some time. If you’ve got a taste for retro design, it’s bound to catch your eye.

This photograph was perhaps when the sheer Life on Mars beauty of it all first really struck us.

A Victorian pub with 1970s signage.
The Anchor & Hope, London E5, in 1982. SOURCE: Terry Gilley/Flickr.

As we’ve acquired ephemera over the years, thanks to donations from people like Steve Williams (thanks again, Steve!) and our own finds on Ebay, we’ve started to love it all the more.

A leaflet in brown, yellow and orange.
‘A Guide to the Fuller Pint’, April 1975.
A map of Fuller's pubs in London.
The interior of ‘A Guide to the Fuller Pint’, 1975.
A brown beer mat advertising various Fuller's beers.
A Fuller’s beer mat from the mid-1970s.
A beer mat advertising London Pride Traditional Draught Ale.
A London Pride beer mat from the mid-1970s.
T-shirt design in rounded font.
A Fuller’s promotional T-shirt from the 1970s.

There are a few obvious defining characteristics of the brand identity from this period.

First, there’s the typography.

We can’t identify a specific font used for the logo but it’s something like Formula (published in 1970) but condensed, with a shadow. Our guess is that it was hand-drawn, inspired by Formula, Caslon Rounded, Bowery and other hip, soft-edged fonts from the late 1960s.

Secondary text is often in a sans serif font that looks to us like Univers or some derivative.

Then there are the colours: what could be more seventies than orange, brown and yellow? (Maybe they could have got avocado in there somewhere if they’d really tried.)

It feels very clearly like an attempt to modernise the brewery’s image, at a time when it was considering ditching cask ale altogether and going all keg. The bosses at Fuller’s wanted a bit of that Watney’s and Whitbread action – to be part of the world of Bird’s Nest pubs and the Chelsea Drugstore. (See 20th Century Pub, chapter five, for more on that.)

What we can’t quite work out is when this branding applied. This beer mat was, we guess, produced very early in the 1970s at around the time this new beer was launched.

Orange beer mat advertising Extra Special Bitter.
An ESB beer mat from, we think, c.1971.

It uses different type and a different logo but the colours are already in place.

By 1974, at the latest, the rounded logo was appearing on packaging and point of sale material, as in this image taken from the brewery’s official history published in 1995.

A man in a dog collar inspects a pint with keg fonts in front of him.
SOURCE: London Pride, Andrew Langley, 1995.

At the other end of the decade we find some more traditional serif fonts creeping back in, along with a trendy ‘swash’ style that you might recognise from the cover of LPs and paperbacks from the period.

A small orange booklet.
A Fuller’s pub guide from c.1979.

This London Pride beer mat is of a similar vintage and is certainly starting to look more ‘real ale’ and hinting towards the 1980s. London Pride is in Souvenir Bold, or similar.

A round, red beer mat.
London Pride beer mat c.1979.

This leaflet is an update of the yellow wonder above, from c.1979/80, and showcases a new slogan: ‘For a taste of tradition’. The rounded logo is still there, along with the Ford Capri go-faster stripes, but beginning to look a bit dated. The illustrations in the leaflet are all brown and beige, folksy rather than mod.

A leaflet with a picture of a tankard on the cover.
Fuller’s pub guide from c.1979.

By the end of the 1970s, Fuller’s had been embraced by, and was embracing, the Campaign for Real Ale and the culture that went with it. Its modern-style pubs were being Victorianised and it wouldn’t be long before those big enamel and brass pump-clips would arrive on the scene.

As if that brief attempt to be trendy never happened.

9 replies on “Fuller’s in the 1970s: funky but chic”

I seem to remember Watney’s pubs in Surrey/ Hants being painted and resigned in similar brown /orange colours during their “any colour but red” period.

Seeing the illustrations of their pubs drawn on a map, there must have been a fashion in the 70’s for small brewers with a small estate to produce these illustrated maps. I had one for Adnams which was a map of East Anglia with the managed pubs shown as little pen & ink quite accurate drawings, as an A1 size poster – this was in the days when Adnams had very few pubs outside Suffolk.

The ESB beermat dates from 1974, in fact (see the catalogue of the British Beermat Collectors’ Society); there is a mat of the same design, but different colours (red, white and blue), which dates from 1971. (ESB was, of course, introduced as “Winter Bitter” in 1969, and renamed in 1971; a “Fullers Winter Bitter” mat was issued in 1970.) The earliest “Guide to the Fuller pint” in my collection dates from May 1974, and – from my memory of living and drinking in London at the time – I think early 1974 (or conceivably late 1973) for the change to the new house style is about right: it certainly wasn’t as early as 1972. As for the other beermats, the “Fuller taste” dates from 1976; the circular London Pride mat from 1977; and the later London Pride mat from 1980.

Yes, and the earliest “A Guide to the Fuller Pint” I have is dated May 1974.
From the 1794 marriage of John Tibble to Ann Fuller I believe that I am distantly related.
I am definitely descended from nearby Richmond brewer John Lewis who is best known for getting Richmond Park reopened to the public.

I don’t remember many pubs doing food in the mid 1970s but that 1974 “A Guide to the Fuller Pint” indicated that of Fullers’s 108 pubs
66 offered “Lunches/Suppers” defined as “Pub meal, grill or cold buffet”, 55 “Lunchtime only” and 11 “Lunchtime & evening”,
41 offered “Snacks” meaning “Light snacks, sandwiches or rolls”. 16 “Lunchtime only” and 25 “Lunchtime & evening”
and only one, the Anchor and Hope at Clapton, offered nothing, presumably other than crisps and nuts.

The distribution of their pubs is though very much as i remember them, the Star Tavern in Belgravia being about the most accessable.

Paul — the history of pub grub is one of our favourite topics. Lots more pubs served food much earlier than people generally seem to realise. There’s a big bit on this in our book 20th Century Pub, in the chapter on gastropubs.

Ray,
Thanks.
I invariably used the Bar while food was probably only served in the Lounge of many pubs.
Yet “Lunches/Suppers” defined as “Pub meal, grill or cold buffet” at “Lunchtime only” and “Snacks” meaning “Light snacks, sandwiches or rolls” both “Lunchtime & evening” is hardly evident at the Red Lion in Acton’s High Street even ten years later ;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgDKtLPp46s

Very interesting to note your remarks. The graphic design and typography are very typical of the time not just for the world of brewing but probably Univers-al if you pardon the pun. For over 40 years my interest in transport operations and beer have gone hand in hand as I travelled around the UK and beyond enjoying both. My collection of transport memorabilia has accumulated since I was a small boy in the 1960s and the shift to the sort of typography and layout you describe here applied also to timetables and promotional materials of bus companies and on the rails. A similar shift into the rounder typefaces of the 80s can be found also. It’s probably my age but the rather stark and simplistic yet modern layouts for the turn of the 60s to the 70s always stirs a little pang of nostalgia for the days before we took computer graphics and universal three colour printing for granted.

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